What is a Capstone Project?
This capstone is a faculty-guided team project for students completing course work in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. The intent is for students to utilize what they have learned in their coursework in a real‐world professional setting working on a project for a client.
The initial scope of work for each project will be drafted in advance and will continue to be refined in the first few weeks through meetings with the faculty advisor and the client. The scope of work should be something that can be achieved over the course of a single semester (January through April). The deliverables to the client, to be outlined in the scope of work, at minimum will include a final written report and a presentation before the client and other stakeholders.
Students work in project teams of three to five students with a mix of skills and interests.
The instructor and faculty advisors for this course will guide help guide each team with the understanding that the work is largely student-driven. This will include advice on helping to define the scope of work, locate useful resources, think through challenges and obstacles, and provide general feedback on the report and presentation.
What is the cost?
There is no cost for Capstone team professional services. You are responsible for any costs required by your specific project (for example: software, materials, transportation).
What skills does a typical capstone team provide?
Typically, a capstone team will include students with a variety of skills that are matched to the project needs. This may include research skills such as data collection, mapping/GIS, statistical analysis, “big data” techniques, survey design and deployment, interviewing, and program evaluation. In addition, our MPA students also have expertise in community engagement, budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, and marketing/design.
What is the selection process for capstone projects?
We look for capstone projects that offer our students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a policy problem in a real-world context. Criteria for good capstone projects include:
- Represents a clear need for your organization and timely/relevant – not “busy work”
- Progress, either whole or in part, can be made during the course of a single semester
- Scope is appropriate so that a significant contribution is made without being unmanageable
- All necessary elements are readily attainable at the start of the project (e.g. data for analysis, access to stakeholders for interviews)
- At least one member of the organization can serve as a point of contact for questions and feedback throughout the project
- The team will have the opportunity to present their findings to a group of individuals in your organization.
What is the capstone project schedule?
The Capstone course runs from early-September to early-December with a showcase in Mid-December.
Key milestones typically include:
|Mid September||Client kick-off meetings to refine scope||
|End of September||Develop workplans, determine roles||Workplan
|October||Conduct research activities: ask questions, collect data, develop analysis||Individual research memo
|November||Draft recommendations and solicit feedback from client and faculty, make revisions||One-pager and in-class presentation on draft recommendations
|End of November||Draft report and presentation, solicit feedback from client and faculty, make revisions||First draft of report
|Early December||Client presentations and Capstone showcase celebration||Final report and presentation of findings to client